Soham Grammarians: The Gondoliers - 1958

first production in the new Assembly Hall

Review from the Soham Grammarian Summer 1958

(courtesy of Donald Monk, 1950)

The Savoy operas are a national and social institution. The music is tuneful and well-known, while the libretti have passed into the language of everyday life. The situations are amusing and often incredible, the characters are familiar, the settings are varied and colourful and the romantic interest is rarely too serious.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Soham Grammar School should choose The Gondoliers as the first production to be mounted in the new Assembly Hall, particularly in view of their earlier successes with H.M.S. Pinafore (1954), Yeomen of the Guard (1955 ) and Pirates of Penzance (1957).

S Poole - J Newman - R Hinze - M Human - B Halls: source R Hinze

The production as a whole was very good and in parts exhilarating. One of the features of school productions of Gilbert and Sullivan is the impersonation of the female chorus by small boys, and here skilful make-up and costume together with careful training in gesture and movement produced a very attractive and convincing chorus of Contadine. These, together with the chorus of Gondoliers, sang with verve, enunciated their words well and paid attention to detail. They moved easily from one stage position to another, and although some of the dancing was a little untidy, the Cachuca was danced with life and abandon.

All the principals acquitted themselves well. C. Graves gave a smooth performance as the Duke, speaking in a very confident and polished manner, and bearing himself with dignity and grace, especially in the Gavotte. B. Banyard made an attractive and imperious Duchess, carrying his part well despite the burden of an unwieldy cloak. The daughter Casilda was played by G. Walker who was rather tense at times although pleasing to look at and having a charming voice. R. Hinze showed considerable stage presence as the Grand Inquisitor, and although he spoke rather rapidly and indistinctly, he sang with a most promising bass voice.

S. Poole as a demure Gianetta sang as purely and delightfully as we have come to expect of him, although the effortless flow was lost in some rapid passages. B. Halls showed himself as an actor who is not afraid to sing, and seemed to identify himself completely with the part of Tessa. His exuberance infected the audience, although sometimes distracted from other action on the stage. M. Human as Giuseppe showed himself as an actor of some experience, especially in scenes with Tessa, and J. Newman as Marco matched Gianetta's thoughtfulness and also produced some very pleasing tenor passages. A. Mann was rather stiff and unsmiling as Luiz, which fitted his position as attendant to the Duke but made him a rather unconvincing lover. M. Whitehead as Antonio and E. Coe as Inez played their supporting parts well.

J Newman - R Hinze - M Human: source R Hinze

The music was supplied by two pianos played by Mr. Stalker and Mr. W. Constable. The playing was always sympathetic, sometimes rather vigorous and often almost orchestral in interpretation.

the cast: source R Hinze

This production made good use of the new stage, both behind and in front of the proscenium, although the shape of the Hall did not allow full use of the width of the stage if everybody was to see all the action. The set was admirably constructed from designs by Mr. Askem, who also painted the striking backcloth for Act One. The lighting was generally effective, improving on the second and third nights. The cast were very ably supported by many masters and boys working before and during the performance to make the show a success.

via Norman Long, publication unknown


Soham Grammar School's choice of Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera "The Gondoliers" for this year's production was an ambitious one but the boys proceeded to show that the task was well within their scope.

There were three performances - on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of last week - and full houses were thrilled by a first class show.

The opera was admirably produced by Mr CR Waller and the whole result was an excellent example of team work.

The director of music was the school music master, Mr WH Stalker, who did a fine job of work and who, with Mr W Constable, provided the accompaniment on two pianos.

The whole was a school effort for the boys made their own scenery, printed the programmes and also made some of the "props."

Principals in the school production (left to right): B Banyard, C Graves, G Walker, A Mann, S Poole, R Hinze, B Halls, J Newman and M Human.

Programme cover by P Reece: source David Cross (1954)


The Duke of Plaza-Toro - C Graves
Luiz (his attendant) A Mann
Don Alhambra Del Bolero (The Grand Inquisitor) - R Hinze
Marco Palmieri - J Newman
Guiseppe Palmieri - M Human
Antonio - M Whitehead
The Duchess of Plaza-Toro - B Banyard
Casilda (Her Daughter) - G Walker
Gianetta - S Poole
Tessa - B Halls
Inez (The King's Foster-mother) - E Coe
Chorus of Gondoliers P Boyce, J Brown, J Coote, E Cox, K Ellingham, J Grassi, D Morley, R Murrell, J Hollands, M Wilson, V Wilson, R Yarrow, D Crowe
Contadine M Tester, A Butler, A Sear, M Coe, R Wheeler, A Gardner, P Vaissiere, R Osland, H Pilbeam, M Griffin, W Tingey, A Wright, R Creak, N Long, M Strevens, R Venney, R Butcher, E Smith, E Coe, G Fuller, A Warne, R Register, I White

Act I The Piazzetta, Venice
Act II Pavilion in the Palace of Barataria
Date - 1750

Set designed & painted by: PJ Askem Esq, M Thomas, M Hallam, R Yarrow, P Cullen, P Herod, D Brown
Set construction: EH Tabraham Esq, J Kiernan, R Drake, J Johnson, P Walton-Knight, R Taylor
Lighting: G Parrott Esq, E Cowley, R Bourne
Programme cover design engraved by P Reece
Programme printed by: M Pamment, J Hollands, M Wilson
Box office: SR Saunders Esq
Transport manager: CJ Ford Esq
Costume manager: RJ Housden Esq
Make-up: Mr WAG Burroughs
Director of Music: WH Stalker Esq,
Producer: CR Waller Esq
We wish to thank all the ladies who have helped with the costumes
There will be an interval of 10 minutes after Act 1
Smoking is permitted in the foyer but not in the auditorium

If you have other or better photographs, or other reviews for this production, please contact the editor
last updated 23 Mar 2010